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law, and more especially to the paschal lamb sacrificed on the great feast of the passover, our Lord's forerunner styles him the Lamb of God. But this title, which was, at first, figurative and metaphorical, has become the peculiar and appropriate designation of Jesus Christ.
Even in his exalted state, amid the glories of his Father's throne, he disdains not that appellation which, in his state of humiliation, he acquired ; but still delights to be praised and magnified, not merely as God, but as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. In this character, the celestial Spirits fall down before him, and worship him, saying, “ Thou art worthy to take the book, " and to open the seals thereof, for thou wast “ slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy " blood, out of every kindred and tongue and
people and nation." It cannot, therefore, be unsuitable in us, who are now assembled, to commemorate that sacrifice which Jesus Christ offered upon the cross, briefly, to contemplate him as the Lamb of God, to inquire for what reasons he is thus denominated, and to show in what sense, and by what means, he taketh away the sin of the world. .
1. Why is Jesus Christ styled, in scripture, the Lamb of God.
1. He is called a Lamb on account of the purity and innocence of his character. Nothing in nature exhibits so beautiful a picture of gaiety, innocence and inoffensiveness as a lamb, which is sportive, harmless and without guile. So, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sin
He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. No wicked or improper design ever entered into bis pure and spotless breast. No word ever issued from his lips, which was not calculated to promote the benefit of those who heard it, to instruct the ignorant, to reclaim the vicious, and to comfort the afflicted. No action of his life ever injured any, but many a time did he seek the temporal and spiritual interest of all, of his enemies and persecutors, of the unthankful and undeserving. Under the law, it was required that the lamb or other animal offered up in sacrifice should be perfect in its kind ; to offer any thing that was lame, maimed or defective, was expressly forbidden as an insult to the majesty of heaven, and an abomination in the sight of God. The best and fattest of the flock were selected for the service of the altar. So, Jesus was chosen a strong one from the flock. His sacrifice could not fail of being acceptable to God, because the purity of his nature and innocence of his life gave it a sweet smelling savour in his sight. Being perfect and holy, he was well qualified to become the authour of eternal salvation to his people : for he needed not to offer sacrifice, first for his own, and then for the sins of others. We are not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot.
2. Jesus Christ is styled a Lamb, on account of the meekness and patience with which he submitted to death. It is unnecessary to describe the manner in which an innocent and helpless lamb yields to the knife of the destroyer.
« Pleased to the last, it crops the flowery food,
So Jesus was brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so be opened not his mouth. Not that he was altogether silent during the last scene of his sufferings, for even in the moments and
power of darkness he uttered many precious
my “ Father hath given me to drink shall I not “ drink it?" Full of the spirit of forgiveness, he prayed for his enemies; full of the spirit of meckness, he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.
3. Jesus Christ is styled the Lamb of God, because he was offered up to his father as a sacrifice for our sins. The offering of sacrifices constituted an important part of the ancient worship. The practice was, probably, of divine origin. Certain it is that it was sanctioned and enjoined by divine authority, under the Mosaick law. The truc and proper notion of a sacrifice for sin appears to be that the victim is substituted in the place of the offender; that his guilt is supposed to be transferred
to this substitute ; and, that, the slaying of the victim expiates the offence, and prevents the punishment of the transgressor. Hence, we see with what propriety Jesus is called the Lamb of God, or a sacrifice for sin. · He assumed our nature, stood in our stead, and bore the guilt of our sins. Being thus substituted in our room, he was led a victim to God's altar, and there suffered the punishment due to the sins of bis people. But, by this sacrifice of himseif, he hath for ever perfected them who are sanctffied, he hath satisfied divine justice, he hath abolished the guilt and punishment of the transgressors, and restored them into favour as if they had never offended. Of this extraordinary victim, the lambs, and bulls, and goats, formerly offered
in sacrifice, were merely types and figures. Hence, Jesus is called “ the Lamb slain from the foun6. dation of the world,” that is, not merely appointed unto death in the divine decrees, but slain figuratively, and by representation, in every animal which was presented at the altar. From this offering of infinite value, all former offerings derived their worth and effiсасу. For it was impossible that the blood of bulls and of goats could take away sin, or that